Zero no Tsukaima:Volume16 Chapter5
Chapter 5: Saito Chevalier De Hiraga Des Ornières
Des Ornières, the land granted to Saito by Henrietta, was in the west of Tristain, a distance of about one hour's ride. If one was leaving from the magic academy or from Tristain, the time it took to get to Des Ornières hardly changed. The week just before the beginning of the summer holidays, Saito and Louise left quickly to inspect the land. It was assumed that the two would go alone, but, as expected, the number of companions increased.
"God ... this already seems like a noble procession." Louise said sulkily.
Land was given to Saito! So using that as an excuse, Guiche, leading the Undine boys (The Knights of the Holy Water Spirit) and Kirche, tired of waiting for Colbert, who had not yet arrived from Aquileia, soon arrived first.
Siesta, of course loaded with a mountain of cleaning utensils, also joined. She was the first that, even without seeing the mansion, wanted to thoroughly inspect every corner of it.
"Des Ornières, what kind of place is it?" Malicorne’s face revealed his great curiosity in the question.
"No idea. How am I supposed to know that?" Saito said with a calm expression, responding to him.
"How much is the annual income of this land?"
Recalling the words of Henrietta:
"12,000 Ecus" Saito said, at the sound of all breathlessly gasping.
"Knights! I've been thinking of recommending Saito to be the sponsor of our corps!" Reynald proclaimed loudly. Nobody objected. Resonant voices were heard all at once.
"What is a sponsor?" Saito asked. Louise answered with an angry voice:
"Obviously, you will pay them the whole."
"Well, since I'm the vice-commander after all..." Saito nodded gently. Then Guiche was heard murmuring in a voice almost inaudible:
"Saito, really, I've been thinking we should all have the same uniform for our corps, but..."
An even angrier Louise replied:
"You are the commander, so do something. Are you not a member of the noble Gramont family?"
"You do not realize that we used the resources we had last season and..."
"And what... Now I remember; back there you used 500 ECU for Monmon! Give them back!"
Upon hearing this, everyone there wore a face of disappointment. Seeing that, Saito declared with an expression as if to say "I will take care of it"
"Do not put on that face, I get it, it's not like I want all the money for myself. It's not as if I had won it by a large merit."
"If you think this is better, I can set aside a part of that money every year to the corps. Do you agree with this?"
"How much, Saito? How much will be fine!?" Reynald asked anxiously.
"How much would be OK...?"
Reynald look at the faces of all those present and said with a calm expression "5000 ECU."
"Understood. I will invest that amount each year."
An "ooooooohhh" resounded from everyone. That absurdly generous offer from Saito provoked Louise. Her face went blue.
"Wait! Hey you! That's almost half!"
"Never mind, I’m fine with it, it’s not as if they were a necessity. Moreover, there is nothing in particular you will need them for. Aahhhh, will you need it for something?"
"Yes, you will need it, you are the vice commander of the imperial guard, and you just have been made a landlord, money and other benefits are things that would have to come to you, not to mention that you do not come from a noble family, or have a employer, you're just an upstart! That makes you an easy target for many. If you're not careful it will surely be a mess."
Saito just watched Louise who kept muttering complaints. Louise has been unusually awful. Bahh, she always has been an angry person, but lately it seems like anything she sees or hears makes her mad.
Is it something that Siesta made to me? He thought that at first, but apparently it was something different. After inspecting the situation and feeling the tension in the air, he remembered something Scarron told him to do in cases like this, but ended up saying nothing.
But ... from the granting of Henrietta, her mood was worsening. Why? Everything went just fine! And on top of that, 12,000 ECU! Saito could not understand the reason for the unusual moodiness in Louise. But, after thinking calmly...
Is it that, even now, Louise is wary of my relationship with the Princess? It was during the celebration' s dance... When Louise saw, from the curtain behind him… Saito kissing the princess… Saito had remembered. However ... At that time the Princess was not herself. She was sad, and needed to be next to someone. Was it coincidence that at that moment I was alone with her...?
Of course Louise knew that, but it seems that she was not able to accept it.
If I were in your place...
For example, if I saw Louise in a similar scene?
Maybe I'd be like that... "It would be natural to be burning with jealousy" Saito thought.
In truth there is nothing between me and the princess, and…
Just when Saito thought that ... Saito briefly felt as if something pricked him in his chest. There was a moment when he thought "hee? That's impossible. The princess was sad, I just served to give her some comfort..."
But this anxiety that pricked like a thorn, that feeling of unease, remained in Saito's chest.
What's happening to me? What is it that is worrying me? Then Saito shook his head.
"Hey you, what are you doing?" After Louise said that, Saito regained consciousness.
Somehow, he still did not understand the real reason for his concerns.
"I-It's nothing! Seriously!"
At the moment Louise tried to question him again, Kirche said something that was obviously said just to annoy her.
"Louise, you complain and want to control how Saito spends his money, are you trying to act as the protector of a noble husband? And tell me you two; do you have planned a wedding after graduation?"
At these words, Saito raised many questions in his head. Seeing a smile on the face of his comrades, Saito could not help but discover himself smiling as well. At that time Louise dragged Kirche at the end of the procession, where they were muttering something quietly so that no one could hear them.
"... This, i-indeed, n-not w-w-why. I-i only c-care about him as a roommate..."
"There will be no wedding, but if… you will live together, no? If you do that, would it not provoke bad rumors?"
"What other people say or think has nothing to do with it! I do not care about that sort of thing!"
"That’s not it Louise." Kirche told her with her eyes half open.
"It's for Saito!"
"W-what are you saying?"
"You see Louise, Saito is now a national hero, a character who received from Her Majesty the Queen a title and a territory. He may be a newcomer, but he is an upstart that is forging a legend. And also in your country, tell me, is it not mysterious for a commoner to become a noble? He is vice-commander of an imperial body, a landowner and also a character prone to get involved in any drama, which always causes uproar. If a person so famous began to live with a girl who is not married, it would become a scandal, and you're the daughter of a duke…" When she had said this, Kirche gave an "oohohohoho!" laughing loudly.
Part of what she said was already something that was worrying her. This caused her to suddenly raise her voice, saying:
"What's wrong! Are you trying to say I'm not right for being with Saito?"
"Yiaa! It was a joke; you do not need to be angry!" Kirche said with an astonished face. But it could not calm Louise’s irritation after insisting on this point. It was inevitable that her spirits falter.
"Yes, it is ... Like you said. I am insignificant. I do not have a tenth of your chest. I'm not sensual. And also, though I say so myself, I am very irritable. Half of that is his fault but I think I am deeply jealous. My face is cute but my personality is not. So I'm told..."
Is what Louise murmured. Seeing Louise, Kirche said with a look of astonishment:
"Certainly, there may be a better girl out there, less like the Louise that you have become. Someone from a noble family, with a good personality and good looks, a girl like that could be a great opportunity for him."
"Do not talk nonsense! Nobody comes so suddenly and on top of that is from a noble family. That does not happen! Do not tell me in your country these things happen!"
"Who knows? There may be someone who thinks that a landowner hero is worthy of staying with her daughter ... the world is very big and anything can happen."
Kirche said laughing, while Louise turned blue. After what had been said, in the mind of Louise, it waved a series of thoughts that bothered her...
True, there are not only nobles in Gallia and Tristain. For example, how many are there in Halkeginia… if a grand duke like Kulldenholff is interested in Saito ... “Please take my daughter!” What will I do if that does happen? And if that man were to say, "do it, and one day you will become a king" What will I do? He is carried away so easily; he may suddenly be seduced by an offer.
Louise thought she would find Saito in the forefront surrounded by the entire hubbub… She could not deduct the encouragement of others, who seemed to be enjoying everything carefree. Even Saito looked at Louise as if he was totally calm himself.
"What, but that! Is it not enough for you, the daughter of a duke? Want to be with someone worthy of you!? But really, becoming the husband of the daughter of a grand duke is difficult. Every day will be tied with a string and you can’t go where you want. The day you get to have an affair, you will be locked up in a dungeon where you will be punished every day. Besides, when you get bored you usually forget the manners, are you ready to not?"
Kirche, looking at such a complex Louise, said:
"That would not change anything about how you would treat him."
"In what way?"
"I-if he was unfaithful, I w-would forgive him from the dungeon."
Louise stood her shoulder forcibly saying: "Perhaps I would be less demanding than the daughter of an archduke."
"If there is no choice" Kirche said as she opened her hands.
Meanwhile they arrived to a place that seemed to be the land of Des Ornières but...
"To the best of my sight I can’t see more than a wasteland." Louise said with an air of distrust.
I understood from the queen that this land is suspected to have an annual income of 12000. Rich farmland, grazing land, fishponds, they could not find any of them. On both sides of the road could be observed only empty and desolate land where the only thing that grew was weeds...
"What grass field will be the main product here?" Saito muttered. Passing by, they found a man who appeared to be a farmer pulling a cart.
"Let's ask him!" Then Guiche waved to the man.
"What can I do for you, my lord?" Like his old horse, he was seedy-looking.
"I would like to take some of your time to ask ... Are these Des Ornières lands?"
"These were my master’s land." It was said with a clear voice, with no accent and an excellent pronunciation, with no doubt.
"This is pretty spoiled to be a land of 12,000 in revenue a year."
Hearing this, the old man with a smiling face gave a "hahaha".
"That was before the Lord of this land died, it’s already been 10 years since that. In the absence of an heir, this land was expropriated but ... young people were leaving these lands to go to the city, and everybody who stayed was just too old to take care of it. Only a few dozen of us are still here, and we do our best to continue working the land."
All were blue in the face after hearing that. In response, Saito, with eyes full of compassion, asked, "And… where is the mansion?"
"The mansion? Is that ... if you do not mind, let me guide you there. I have free time to spare."
They walked through a sort of thick forest, as ruined as the rest of the earth. 10 years had passed since the abandonment of the house. It was clear it had not received maintenance.
Previously it could have been a splendid mansion worthy of a noble, but now all that remained after that many years were broken windows, the roof, doors covered with vines, and cracked walls.
"This will be a challenge to clean..." Siesta muttered in a puzzled voice.
"Her Majesty the Queen… why has she given you a land in such bad shape?" Reynald asked. Malicorne nodded.
"No, surely Her Majesty did not know. Maybe she did not remember that it was a land so devoid in all aspects. But if she gave this land to Saito, surely she also ordered anyone looking for a place to settle to come here."
Upon hearing this conversation, "Maa, being the princess, that is possible." Louise said from the bottom of her heart. Surely Henrietta had no bad intentions. Only, as she is supposed to be the queen after all, it’s normal that people expect from her things that are above the clouds.
Certainly if we ask to make arrangements here, it would be solved. And if we say 12,000 annual income, she would see to it that you get it. Although I do not think that she will take charge of the verification.
At the same time, Louise was somehow relieved. Henrietta was the one who gave this land to Saito and it’s really only because she sees him as a vassal. As a princess, giving some land to the man she loves, it is obvious that she would at least verify its condition. That said, it became clear that Louise kept even some suspicion. The unjustified special treatment for Saito ... displays of affection, those things…
I can’t deny the recent past, but I do not think it hides bad intentions. I think these were sincere acts.
Let’s see it in the right side. All my fears are absurd.
Thinking of this, Louise could feel her heart filled with enthusiasm. Immediately, Louise was filled with a confidence she could barely contain. Even if she’s a princess, no matter where she comes from, whether she’s a noble or a plebeian, there is no way I could lose to anyone. That's because I am the third daughter of an influential Duke. I can assume that there is no one greater than me in refinement or elegance. I might not have a big chest, but in this world, there is no one that equals my beauty!
It doesn’t matter if he’s a national hero, I do not have to feel indebted to Saito, yes, definitely I do not have to.
"Say you do not compare yourself to me and there is no reason to be so confident."
Louise let out a small smile. How come just now I was ashamed?
"Nonsense." Didn’t I say to myself, I make him the favour of letting me live with him? "You should be grateful to have the honour to live with me; it is ridiculous to think that I feel indebted to you."
"What? In truth you can live here ..." Saito said crestfallen. Louise then attacked his shoulder.
"Right? Isn't it enough for you?"
Saito turned his head, and for some reason he saw Louise with a look of triumph on her face. Although a moment ago she was muttering complaints and was discouraged. What happened that changed her mood so well?
"What is the matter with you? Hey, Louise ..."
"It's nothing. It's just that the weather was cloudy and overcast."
Saito doubted that was it, but seeing Louise happy compared to how troubled she looked a moment ago, no matter what had happened, it seemed to have improved her mood ... It also somehow managed to cheer him.
"Never mind if this mansion is falling apart. I’m fine with it."
"N-no problem! It’s only a matter of getting used to live here!"
I suppose it will look better when it is cleaned.
"But ... it will be difficult! Aahaahaa"
"Hey, are you really thinking about living here?" Kirche asked, surprising both of them.
"No problem, after all it is the mansion of the land that the princess gave us. If we were to not live here, we might be punished."
"Hey Saito. Buy a fortress, a fortress, let's quickly get out of this haunted mansion!" insisted the Ondin guys, but Saito did not seem to pay attention to them.
No ... on second thought, if we end up buying a fortress with the money, what would we do with the other expenses? And then we would have to make a budget for the maintenance.
"Hey! We could get a lot of revenue if we do heroic actions here and there!"
"Yes, it’s true!"
The young nobles have started talking like they were about to start a worldwide spectacle.
"And what would we do if we get injured? And besides, how many opportunities will we have to do heroic actions? Not many, right? And in the end, we only have 600 ECU of the pension we receive from La Vallière, in which Louise and I use for everyday expenses, and there is also the salary of the maid." Saito said as he directed his gaze to the emaciated mansion.
"Naa, even if it’s not a lot, this land will produce profits. How about it then? Is it okay here, Louise?"
"Yep." Louise nodded. To Siesta, the fact of living with Saito was more than enough, so she had been smiling from the start.
Seeing disappear its 5000 annual ECU, the Ondine boys were now the one with a long face.
Louise and Saito asked a favor to a contractor to repair their mansion for 1000 ECU.
The first day they saw their new home, it discouraged them, but over the days the place had become a decent place to live.
At the time when the summer began, it seemed more and more possible to get accustomed to live in that place. They expected that within a month or two the mansion would be worthy of a noble status to stay in, except for the second floor of the mansion which was covered with a type of discontinued stone.
Right in front of the vestibule stood a fan-shaped staircase. Passing a heavy oak door, there was a huge lounge. When entering on the right, you could find a dining room where you could sit up to 20 people. In the background there was the space for the kitchen.
A room that served as a reception room and study was on the left side.
At the top of the staircase that led on both side to the second floor, there was 6 rooms. As expected, one of those 6 rooms was used as a bedroom. Saito and the others bought a great new bed for that room.
In the garden was a barn and cages that served as home for dogs. It seemed that Mr. Des Ornières was very adept at hunting because they had been splendidly built. Going downstairs was a door leading to the basement, which was firmly closed. They sought for it but they could not find the key, so it was decided to leave it as well.
At this moment, the people that lived on Saito’s land were exclusively composed of elders. However, they still could achieve an income of 2000 ECU. Even if had lost its verve, the worn earth could still get some grapes. The wine that was prepared by the elders was delicious, although little was produced. By sharing it with others, little by little it acquired fame.
Saito and Louise passed calm days at the Magic Academy while they spent their weekend in Des Ornières. Viewing it as repairs progressed in the mansion seemed fun. Calmly, casually visiting Des Ornières, filled them with satisfaction.
On one occasion when Saito and the others came to visit, they did some cleaning with Siesta, ordered new furniture and took a walk around.
They could almost not see the desolate field in the lands of Des Ornières. Also, if you watched closely you could find a lot of entertaining things: a small pond in the forest, a garden, small wildflowers blooming, all this into a walk while watching the scenery. It was a great way to pass the time.
At night, the people of Des Ornières decided to go to greet their new master. They brought the wine that makes them so proud, some fruits they had reaped, freshly baked bread and freshly made sweets, and soon it wasn’t necessary to prepare dinner!
While taking their walk, the villagers were talking about them with animated voices. They knew Saito was a knight of the imperial guard of plebeian origin. They were speaking of him like he was a grandson whom they felt very proud of.
"Hello, hello, please come to visit my humble home, my young lord!"
With that kind of voice they were called, and humbly, they were greeted with tea, alcohol and sweets. Then, they listened to Saito amusing them by telling them stories, their eyes wide open.
"I'm happy that our new lord is this type of person." Saito felt like he was a winner.
Saito hired an old woman from the neighbourhood. Helen, but they called her “Grandmother Helen”, was an elderly woman who was very active for her age. She was taking care of the mansion when Saito and the others were not there.
She was a very wise grandmother and was also very good at housework.
The mansion was very large so Siesta and Grandma Helen were sufficient for the job.
On a table in the bedroom, Saito placed his laptop, watching it every day.
Right now he could not know in what condition his own family was. This was a little frustrating but ... leaving aside that, he thought that his actual life was now very satisfactory.
Someday, a void mage ... maybe Tiffa, maybe Louise, I do not know but, if they were to remember the spell of "The Gate of the World"… Then I will come back to my city and I’ll let them know how I've been.
But what if ... they can’t remember?
Somehow, no matter what happens, I'll take it in the best way possible. It was mysterious that Saito could not think that was possible…
But… inside of him, there was a feeling, a conviction. I may return someday.
But even if that time comes ... I can’t pull the life I lead here.
That's what Saito thought, looking at his side as Louise slept peacefully.
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